Mayor de Blasio’s fundraiser pulled major strings to get a crooked donor’s pal a last-minute invitation to an exclusive party at Gracie Mansion, newly released emails reveal.
Ross Offinger fired off an email to City Hall event organizers on April 12, 2014, on behalf of deep-pocketed Jona Rechnitz, who has since pled guilty to bribing NYPD and city officials.
The email – titled “Have a big donor friend of Jona Rechnitz who wants to come tonight” — sought to add philanthropist Russell Galbut to the guest list for a barbecue being thrown later that evening at Gracie Mansion for the Democratic National Convention 2016 selection committee. It asks, “can we make an exception?”
Offinger came to the rescue shortly after Rechnitz himself attempted to get Galbut added as his guest but was shot down because the event was overbooked. Apparently annoyed over not getting his way, Rechnitz emailed back the mayor’s office to say “count me out” and let Offinger know how peeved he was by CC’ing him.
Michael Carey, director of the Mayor’s Office for Special Projects and Community Events, later in the day replied to Offinger, “Let me get back to you. We are WAYYYYY over capacity.”
However, he eventually caved in and said via email Rechnitz could bring Galbut.
Offinger then replied, “Hero!!! Many many thanks. You have one of the toughest gigs in public service!”
The emails were obtained by The Post through the Freedom of Information Law and were among thousands of pages of correspondences by city officials related to de Blasio’s now-shuttered fundraising nonprofit Campaign for One New York.
Offinger hung up the phone on a reporter seeking comment, but de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips downplayed Offinger’s actions.
“It was an event to court potential DNC donors for a convention that would have been a good economic thing for New York City,” Phillips said. “Naturally, members of the political donor class were encouraged to attend.”
Rechnitz was the government’s star witness earlier this year in the bribery trial of former city correction officer union president Norman Seabrook. He offered bombshell testimony about pay-to-play activities at City Hall that sometimes overshadowed the allegations against Seabrook.
Rechnitz testified about having a tight relationship with de Blasio and Offinger, and about his ability to get his problems solved based on how much he donated to the mayor’s pet causes.
He also said under oath that the mayor personally hit him up for a $102,000 donation for a failed bid to help Democrats wrest control of the state Senate and that the two spoke on the phone once a week.
Rechnitz also proved to be a generous donor to de Blasio, shelling out $50,000 to Campaign for One New York, and giving another $9,900 to his 2013 mayoral campaign with his wife.
De Blasio has labeled Rechnitz as a “liar” and a “felon” who shouldn’t be trusted.